Learning To Be Loved After Childhood Trauma

I happened to marry a guy who had a childhood completely free of abuse.

When we were dating, I began sharing my story with him and I watched him look at me in shock.

Beautifully, even though we had such different childhood experiences, we both wanted the same things out of life, agreed on how to discipline children, agreed on the atmosphere we’d want in our future home.

But there was something I was learning: that I didn’t know how to let someone truly love me. My walls were high and thick.

I had amazing friends, but even with friends I’d pull away or handle conflict in very unhealthy ways. Part of that was just that I was unhealthy, but part of it was also that I just didn’t know how to be loved or that conflict doesn’t mean cops are being called and someone is going to jail. When you become accustomed to chaos, you carry it with you always.

Anyone who has been through decades of trauma and abuse knows there is no such thing as “7 Steps To Healing.” Even the 5 Stages of Grief aren’t linear. So, this won’t be a blog post of steps to take in order to let someone love you. There are no step-by-step answers here.

But there is hope!

Start Small.

You didn’t lose yourself overnight. This is going to be a journey of YEARS rather than MONTHS, of DECADES rather than YEARS.

Sometimes, you get to learn to find yourself while also allowing someone else to find you too. Honestly, I think that is one of the hardest journeys.

My best advice is to start small. It’s ok if you need to build trust. It’s ok if you have no idea who you are and need to learn that too.

Those of us who were given stories completely out of our control…we have A LOT to process. Processing alone can take years. Undoing the control and manipulation. Untangling the lies. It is a long, long journey, but there is no other way. You either sort through your story, or you succumb to it.

The beautiful part is that you eventually step into newness. Eventually, you learn that forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Eventually, your body starts healing too and all that trauma that was trapped inside you slowly comes out. It’s like detoxing.

Learning to let someone else love you, means learning to love who God created you to be.

For me, the way I wrapped my mind around this, was thinking of all the times I tried to show love growing up that were either flatly rejected or used against me. It cause me so much pain to have my affection rejected, and thinking of causing my husband or children that same rejection was just unfathomable.

It isn’t just a blessing to be loved. It is also a blessing to love. And when we thwart those gestures of love, even out of self-preservation or fear, what we are actually doing is perpetuating the same cycle we grew up in.

Breaking a generational curse doesn’t just mean setting a boundary. Sometimes, it means looking deep inside of ourselves, at the things we have learned and witnessed, and learning to sort between what is good and what is evil.

I learned many valuable lessons growing up that I’m incredibly thankful for, but I’ve also had to learn to sort between the good lessons and the lies. Most people have this experience. Most people are not raised by parents who are 100% evil all the time. That is what makes childhood abuse so difficult to process.

So, start small. Be brave, but also be wise. Don’t give your heart to the first guy/girl who pays attention to you. A good man/woman will put in the effort to build trust, but it’s also not all on them. You have to step into that new space of being loved, even though it’s terrifying.

Gentle. Be gentle with yourself. Find a therapist. Journal. Talk to good friends who can help you process along the way too.

Loving someone else is a blessing. For another person, that someone is you.

Published by Alicia Dean

Truth seeker and story-teller.

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